Global Change Summit Series with Claire Smith

This week on Desert Island Events, host Narmeen Kamran speaks to Claire Smith, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Vancouver Convention Centre. 

When considering her dream event, Claire looked at the broader value and reaches of events, beyond the economic. Claire decided she would like a series of events that would be able to change the world through conversation. Her vision was round global solution summits, where people come together to solve world problems over time. Claire wants tangible results from her events with a community that is committed to seeing change in the future. 

Claire wants to run her events in all her favourite cities and appreciate cities that are renowned for being global leaders. Her aim is to run a couple of events a year in different cities and progress from there. Each summit would have a different topic and problem to solve, so would attract a variety of different attendees. 

She would have her series of events in her home town of Vancouver and wants to host it in her own venue, the Vancouver Conference Centre. The topic kicking off the series would be climate change and environment issues. The audience would consist of people she would want to be part of the conversation, this would include researchers, scientists and world leaders. However, she sees a real opportunity for youth ambassadors to be part of it from all around the world. Claire wants to curate an audience in order to create a real conversation with influential people. From the event, Claire would want actionable steps and recommendations that can be taken back to countries, creating a road map to make a better impact on the planet. 

Claire would want to see three or four of these events to happen each year in different places, but for communities that attended the event to continue their work for the cause after it is done. They may also meet each year to follow up on recommendations and actions that were previously discussed. The summits would last around three days, taking people on a journey to create actionable steps and collaborate with different groups to tackle an issue. Claire sees each event as a journey for collaboration with attendees. 

Claire wants to model by example and have sustainability imbedded into every aspect of the summit. Vancouver is known for being a sustainable city. Claire wants to put that passion for sustainability into practice. However, it is also the commitment and actions of attendees that are critical as well, in creating a sustainable event. Claire emphasizes that it is important as an event and venue manager that you are part of the solution, not problem. 

The dinners at the summit will be a very important aspect. Claire wants to spread out these dinners to smaller restaurants to encourage attendees to have an authentic experience in a city. This would also encourage continued dialogue from the day and new ideas to form. Rather than having seated banquet dinners, Claire sees the event having a buffet like service to avoid a ridged schedule, meaning groups can break and continue a natural conversation in their own time. Claire wants a casual environment for the summit to reduce pressure on attendees to mingle and allow for natural flow to conversations. 

She is passionate about bringing people together, so creating platforms for people to collaborate and solve problems is really exciting for her. She sees it as a journey, allowing for dynamic change and evolution of each event to the next. Claire described it as a work in progress, to leave an incredible and inspiring impact. 

Claire’s dream dish at her event would be something exotic and spicy. She would challenge a team of global chefs to create a dish that would appeal internationally to everyone and, from that, conversation would flow around the dish. 

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Episode 19